Operator: Hanson UK
Size: 62.5 hectares
Restored to: Nature Conservation/Contribution to Biodiversity
Irthlingborough Quarry is a 62.5 hectare site within the floodplain of the River Nene in Northamptonshire which used to produce sand and gravel. It has now been designated as part of the Upper Nene Valley Gravel Pits SSSI and has been proposed as a RAMSAR site and Special Protection Area because of its value for birdlife.
The site has been restored into a variety of wetland landscapes from areas of deep open water to wet woodland, without taking away its flood land capacity. The landform and water levels have been carefully designed to avoid the need for constant water pumping.
In restoring the flood meadow, the topsoil was mixed with the subsoil to promote the growth of wild flowers and grasses. Low intensity cattle grazing also takes place there.
Large, steep-sided voids were converted into fragmented water bodies using overburden and soils from extraction. The lakes range from shallow to deep, containing spits and small islands, with reeds planted along many banks.
The site provides spots for over wintering birds and small ponds and ditches for amphibians and dragonflies. Badgers, otters and foxes have been seen on or near to the site and lapwings, mallard and warblers have all been spotted.
A circular footpath walk has been created around the site and the Nene Valley Way runs through the area, providing public access for walking, fishing and bird watching.
Irthlingborough Quarry’s successful restoration has improved habitats for birdlife while also offering significant benefits for public recreation.